Children's Commissioner - The Things I Wish my Parents had Known

Talking to your child about online sexual harassment: A guide for parents

In December 2021 a guide for parents and carers on online sexual harassment and how they can support children to stay safe online was published.

The Children's Commissioner wrote:

The things I wish my parents had known…” draws together advice from 16-21-year-olds on how parents should manage tricky conversations around sexual harassment and access to inappropriate content, including pornography. No child should have to stumble across harmful content online, and my office is taking action to try and tackle this issue. But, in the meantime I wanted to provide support and guidance for parents now on how to support your child if they do come across harmful content online.

An overriding message is that parents should start these challenging conversations early. Our focus groups suggest broaching topics before a child is given a phone or a social media account, which is often around the age of 9 or 10. The guide focuses on issues such as:

  • Easily accessed online pornography
  • Pressure to send nude pictures
  • Sexualised bullying
  • Editing pictures and body image
  • Peer pressure

The aim for the guide was to pull together these challenging (often seemingly unapproachable) topics for parents in an accessible way.